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e-2884 (Health)

Initiated by Jenna Williams from Ottawa, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

  • Sexually explicit material, including demeaning material and material depicting sexual violence, can be easily accessed on the Internet by young persons;
  • A significant proportion of the sexually explicit material accessed online is made available on the Internet for commercial purposes and is not protected by any effective age-verification method;
  • The consumption of sexually explicit material by young persons is associated with a range of serious harms, including the development of pornography addiction, the reinforcement of gender stereotypes and the development of attitudes favourable to harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, particularly against women;
  • Parliament recognizes that the harmful effect of the increasing accessibility of sexually explicit material online for young persons is an important public health and public safety concern;
  • Online age-verification technology is increasingly sophisticated and can now effectively ascertain the age of users without breaching their privacy rights;
  • Anyone making sexually explicit material available on the Internet for commercial purposes has a responsibility to ensure that it is not accessed by young persons; and
  • Online age verification was the primary recommendation made by stakeholders during a 2017 study by the Standing Committee on Health.
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to adopt Bill S-203, Protecting Young Persons from Exposure to Pornography Act.

Response by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable David Lametti

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that children are safe from sexual abuse and exploitation, including when they are online. The Criminal Code of Canada provides a robust framework for protecting children from sexual exploitation, both online and in person. This includes offences such as possessing, making, accessing or distributing child pornography (section 163.1), making sexually explicit material available to a child (section 171.1) and luring a child (section 172.1), in addition to a range of other child-specific sexual offences. Canada’s laws addressing child sexual offending also apply extra-territorially, meaning that prosecutions may occur in Canada for offences allegedly committed by Canadian citizens or permanent residents abroad.

An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide Internet service came into force on December 8, 2011. This Act requires a Canadian provider of Internet services to report child pornography that they find on their servers in the ordinary course of conducting their business to police. As the designated organization under this Act, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) also receives and processes reports of child pornography and child abuse on the Internet. C3P is a non-governmental organization that operates, which forwards child sexual exploitation leads to the appropriate authorities. C3P also provides public education and awareness materials, as well as support and referral services. In addition, C3P operates Project Arachnid, an automated web crawler that detects and processes tens of thousands of images per second and sends take down notices to online service providers to remove child sexual abuse material globally.

In 2004, the Government of Canada created the National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet (National Strategy). The National Strategy focuses on law enforcement, prevention and education, and support for, Canada’s national tip-line for reporting online sexual exploitation and abuse. The National Strategy was renewed in 2009, bringing the total investment in fighting CSE online to over $18 million per year for Public Safety Canada, the RCMP and Justice Canada. In 2019, the Government of Canada announced an additional $22.24 million over three years to combat this crime. Public Safety Canada is the lead department on the National Strategy.

Senate Public Bill S-203, An Act to restrict young persons’ online access to sexually explicit material, proposes measures to restrict access to sexually explicit material online, including through a new offence and new powers to compel Internet Service Providers to take steps to prevent the sharing of sexually explicit material to a young person. This bill will be debated in accordance with the rules that govern Senate Public Bills.

Open for signature
October 7, 2020, at 12:24 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
February 4, 2021, at 12:24 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Arnold Viersen (Peace River—Westlock)
February 16, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00508)
Government response tabled
April 12, 2021
Photo - Arnold Viersen
Peace River—Westlock
Conservative Caucus